I am a Nerd. Rejoice in my geekdom!
Depending on where you are, you might have noticed there was a nifty solar eclipse yesterday.
You may have also noticed that I have a lot of interest in life…dog sports, running, eating, traveling, roller derby, urban farming, photography…and astronomy. Seriously. It’s a thing with me. For example, I have had a standing date with my dad since I was ten years old to view a solar eclipse at its best vantage point in a rural Kentucky county…on August 21, 2017.
So of course at 6:20 PM yesterday, I had my camera mounted on the tripod pointing directly into the sun and snapping photos every few seconds.
For those who are wondering: yes, there were plenty of eclipse parties in our area. I opted out in favor of standing quietly not quite in the middle of my suburban street. Don’t worry, the ice cream truck stopped and I am still alive today-mostly because the driver really wanted to see the eclipse and apparently the best way to do so in my neighborhood was to crowd around the photographer.
I would be annoyed except I am really quite used to it. Case in point: 11 PM on Champs Elysees, August 2011. The throngs of tourists were all bunched together on a wide expanse of cobblestone seeking to get a beautiful night shot of the Arc du Triomphe. Having scouted out the area by day, I set up my tripod on a lonely little corner, precariously perched as close to moving traffic as I could get because I wanted something different. With the first 10 clicks of the shutter, I was suddenly surrounded by my a few hundred of my new close and personal friends.
This would be repeated in Oban (Scotland) a week later on a narrow boat launch in the harbor-though instead of a hundred chattering tourists clamoring desperately to edge each other out in hoping of getting that perfect shot, it was 10 or 12 locals wanting to know which magazine I was shooting for (yeah, that never gets old. Thank you but I am not that good but I do love it.).
Apparently, I project some sort of air that I might know what I am doing. I find this particularly amusing because while I do work hard at this, I am perpetually in a state of learning and experimentation.
Case in point:
Clearly the apocalypse is upon us.
So while my poor neighbors and their party goers slapped ten cent eclipse viewers over the front of their iPhones while donning two and sometimes three pairs of sunglasses, I was just chilling, looking at my pinhole eclipse viewer on the ground and monitoring shots on the back of my camera. Well, I and about 15 other people at any given moment. My favorite question? If the sky is still light, why is the sky black?
Elementary my dear, neighbor. A super fast shutter speed and a high aperture allows only a fraction of the actual ambient light in-which is particularly important if you staring into a giant ball of flaming gas. In retrospect, I wouldn’t dialed back the ISO quite so far. I was trying to avoid a lot of noise, problem being I dialed it below the “natural” threshold of the camera and into an area of digital compensation, which also generated some noise. Not a lot though. Don’t worry, I am already well aware of my geekdom.
And I have to be honest. I peeked at the sun no fewer than 30 times during the process but only because we had this awesome cloud cover that made it possible to catch a glimpse here and there. I saw spots a couple times but overall, I was really good about not staring directly into the sun. Common sense and all that junk.
In the end, I came away with 276 images. Not all are great but there are some interesting ones too. I am having fun playing with them: putting together a time lapse video, and staging photo series, and drawing in the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse just to scare the crap out of people.
Were you in an area where you could see the eclipse? What did you think?